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Hip Dysplasia In Dogs

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Hip Dysplasia In Dogs

It’s the disease that strikes fear in large breed dog owners everywhere. Canine Hip dysplasia affects all dogs but particularly plagues larger dogs, especially St. Bernards, Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers.

But your dog doesn’t have to succumb to this disease. Today we are covering all things related to hip dysplasia in dogs. We are going to cover the best methods so you know how to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs. As well, we’ll discuss what hip dysplasia symptoms in dogs look like and how to stop them from becoming worse. So buckle up; here’s how to keep your dog healthy by preventing and treating hip dysplasia.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dys(bad)plasia(formation).

There are two main components that make up a dog’s hip joint: the ball of the femur and socket (acetabulum) of the pelvis. In dogs free of hip dysplasia the ball will fit comfortably into the socket and move along with it without causing friction. Dogs with hip dysplasia will have the ball either pressing too much against the acetabulum, or it will have dislodged out of the socket. If age-related, it’s likely that smooth cartilage that lubricates the ball and socket has worn down and this allowing the ball to rub against the socket.

Regardless, the results are the same, and that’s bones grinding against each other, wearing each other down until they can’t function properly — even if they were put back into their proper places.

There are quite a number of things that can cause the ball of the femur and the socket of the pelvis to fall out of proper placement and this means that dogs with hip dysplasia can range from any age. You’ve probably heard that it’s only a disease that affects older dogs and this is due to age and inflammation from osteoarthritis (affects 1 in 4). And while it more common in older dogs, hip dysplasia in puppies isn’t that uncommon - we know that dogs as young as 4 months can be affected.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia overwhelmingly affects older and larger breeds cluing us into some of the main causes of hip dysplasia in dogs.

Genetically prone to hip looseness or muscle laxity

Includes large breeds such as Mastiffs, St. Bernards, bulldogs, American Staffordshire terriers, retrievers, and Rottweilers. As well as some small breeds like French Bulldogs and Pugs.

Rapid weight gain and obesity

If your dog is overweight, stop what you’re doing and check out where they are holding their fat. A lot of breeds carrier extra fat around their back ends which shifts pressure around. Not only can this pressure fall on the hip joint, but it can take away pressure from the anal glands causing them to get impacted. If your dog is overweight you may be cutting their life short.

Nutritional factors

An unbalanced diet that’s missing or lacking omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, vitamin c, glucosamine, and chondroitin can put your dog at risk for developing hip dysplasia.

Diminished Pelvic-muscle mass

This can result due to genetics or lack of exercise*. *For bigger breeds like Great Danes, you should quell heavy exercise for the first year, so be careful to not over-exercise your dog.

Hip Dysplasia Symptoms in Dogs

Canine Hip dysplasia overwhelmingly affects older and larger breeds cluing us into some of the main causes of hip dysplasia in dogs.

The signs of hip dysplasia will depend on the severity of the disease and its progression. Young dogs will typically experience acute hip dysplasia for around a year before it is considered chronic and therefore more serious.

The biggest indicator will be if you notice issues relating to the area around the hip joints and hind legs. Some dogs are babies and will not hide even the slightest bit of pain, others dogs are different and will hide their symptoms until they have become severely debilitating.

  • Backend and thighs weaken and lose muscle mass
  • Bigger more muscular frontend and overdeveloped shoulders
  • Decrease exercise
  • Decrease range of leg motion
  • Hopping around
  • Lethargy
  • Narrow back leg stance
  • Signs of backend pain
  • Trouble getting up
  • Trouble walking

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

signs of hip dysplasia

Remember, some dogs hide their symptoms, so while it may seem mild, this may only be because your dog is trying to hide it. So don’t wait until their yearly appointment comes around. Plus, in some cases, canine hip dysplasia will rapidly develop due to the cause. If you notice any of the above issues, it’s a good idea to give your veterinarian a call. Even if the symptom is mild, it’s nice to at least call as your vet as they can help determine whether an examination is needed. If the dog breed prone to hip dysplasia, dog owners will definitely want to get into the habit of closely monitoring their dog for signs.

To determine what’s causing your dog’s hip pain, your vet will perform a series of tests.

These tests are undertaken in a similar order of diagnosis and include...

      • Physical exam
      • Range of motion test
      • X-rays
      • Urinalysis
      • Blood tests
      • Electrolyte panel
      • Blood chemical profile

Dog Hip Dysplasia Treatment Options

There is a range of treatment options for canine hip dysplasia. In mild cases, a change in diet and exercise may be enough to keep symptoms at bay and perhaps directly fix the cause.

In severe cases where diet, exercise, and medication fail, surgery is often recommended.

Weight Loss

If your dog is overweight and has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, pet owners will need to follow a crucial diet to get their weight down. Not only can it stop the disease from getting worse but it may also “cure” the issue.

However, a lot of exercises that will help your dog lose weight can be hard on their legs, so we face a catch-22. Fortunately, a combination of diet and swimming is fantastic for helping your dog lose that extra weight at a steady and safe rate.

We don’t want to drop their weight too fast as it can put muscle mass even more at risk and that’s the last thing we want. Mammals are biological predispose to store fat for survival, and the body will cannibalize muscle for energy to ensure it doesn’t lose too much fat too fast. Your vet is your best source of information for how much food you’ll need to reduce. 

Reducing Inflammation

It’s likely that there will be inflammation in and around the hip joints when your dog has hip dysplasia. You can talk to your vet about the appropriate medication to reduce the inflammation. In some cases, your vet may prescribe a NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

NSAIDs are usually fine with short-term use. However, long-term use can come with some pretty nasty issues as these drugs are hard on the kidneys. Fortunately, there are safer long-term solutions that can help reduce inflammation such as CBD.


Above you saw that a diet lacking glucosamine can result in hip dysplasia. In fact, this chemical compound is so important to healthy joints, that it’s often supplemented into a dog’s diet when they are diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Supplementing glucosamine can help reduce the pain and stiffness in your dog's joints.

Pelvic Osteotomy

Pelvic osteotomy can be performed on younger dogs (under a year) that have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. The surgical procedure improves the function of the ball-and-socket by cutting the pelvic bone and rotating the segments. This procedure is typically broken into two separate surgeries to allow one side to heal before operating on the other. If inflammation is detected on the X-ray, then it’s too late for pelvic osteotomy and hip replacement may be recommended — which has a very high success rate.

Total Hip Replacement 

Total hip replacement may sound like an extreme solution however experts agree that it’s the best surgery option. THP has the best chance to restore the normal function of the hip free of pain and immobility.

CBD For Dogs With Hip Dysplasia

It’s the latest herb that’s making perhaps the biggest fuss ever seen in the natural and holistic health world. People are using CBD both for themselves and giving it to their dogs to help with a number of medical conditions: anxiety, epilepsy, and beyond. CBD can help improve health in a number of ways because it acts on a vital regulatory system that’s vital to our health.

One of those conditions CBD has been seen to help with is hip dysplasia. CBD couldn’t be easier to supplement into your dog's diet, so let’s check out how it may help treat and prevent hip dysplasia in dogs.

Using CBD to Help Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is a hallmark of many diseases, and chronic hip dysplasia is no different. Above you saw that certain surgeries to correct hip dysplasia are no longer possible once inflammation is detected.

So not only is it important to treat inflammation once it there, it’s critical to prevent it from occurring. Doing so can stop the disease from crippling your dog. Remember, while it’s extremely likely to see inflammation in severe cases of hip dysplasia, there is a good chance inflammation won’t present itself in early or acute hip dysplasia. Again, this is why it so important to seek help as soon as you see any symptoms.

CBD helps specialized neurotransmitters in the body that activate receptors throughout the immune system and other systems. When activated these receptors are vital to your dog’s ability to maintain and regain control of a system that has become overactive. Often the things that make mammals feel sick are our own defense systems — such as the inflammatory process or anxiety. Good inflammation helps kill pathogens but sometimes the immune system is under too much stress and inflammatory cells start attacking the body instead.

Study after study has shown that CBD’s ability to target these regulatory receptors can both prevent and treat inflammation regardless of the source.

Using CBD to Help Your Dog’s Hip Pain

One of the biggest symptoms of hip dysplasia is pain. It cannot be stated enough how important it is to stop pain before it becomes a chronic issue. This is because chronic pain is both a physical and mental/emotional disease.

The brain has an interesting way it adapts to everyday occurrences. Usually, the brain learns to ignore things, but pain is different. Brains scans show abnormal activity in those with chronic pain to those without it. Studies show that chronic pain signals will move from their nociceptive region and enter into regions that control emotions. This means chronic pain can make your dog depressed.

Hip dysplasia already makes it different enough for your dog to play, move around, and in some cases even eat. The last thing we need is debilitating pain making them depressed. This only pushes them even further into an abyss of misery. Fortunately, CBD may be the answer to preventing this from happening.

Studies show that CBD acts on receptors that suppress inflammatory and chronic pain — both of which are very difficult to manage. But that’s not all, other research shows that by targeting CB2 receptors, CBD can play a positive role in nociception pain. This means that CBD may help prevent nociception pain signal from moving into regions that affect emotions. There is a lot of backing showing CBD may really help your dog’s hip pain.

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